Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Chequers and streaks
A small number of moths like pretending to be butterflies, both in the shape of their antennae (butterflies' are always slender and clubbed, moths' infinitely variable) and by folding their wings up when at rest, like the one above. This is a Bordered White which combines both forms of pretence, at least in females, which have thin antennae as well as the wing habit. In the background is a Mottled Beauty with a chunk taken out of its wing as a result of some encounter, either with a bird or a bramble. I was working at Hardwick Hall yesterday and thought of moths while examining a picture of Thomas Hobbes, tutor to the young Cavendishes and coiner of the opinion that man's life is nasty, brutish and short. This wasn't true in his case; the Cavendishes were wealthy and generous and he lived to be 91, but I suspect that brutish and short apply to the lives of most moths. Here's the Beauty in more detail above right, a classic Jane Eyre moth but with delicate patterning. Click on the pic to examine in more detail.
Two other arrivals: this pretty little Marbled Beauty (left) and below a Barred Yellow checking on its correct vitamin take from the eggbox. One of the sub-fascinations of a hobby such as mothing is linking the insects to their foodplants. Today's four suggest correctly that we have pines nearby, the Bordered White's favourite, wild roses which the Barred Yellow prefers, and lichen, the rather unusual food of the Marbled Beauty's caterpillars. The last's colouring is perfect camouflage for resting on lichen. Is that Darwinian or coincidence? The Mottled Beauty meanwhile is like me. Its caterpillars eat pretty much anything.